Health and safety risks to workers include both physical and psychological injury risk. In relation to work a psychosocial risk is an adverse workplace interaction or condition of work that compromises your health and wellbeing.

A psychologically healthy and safe workplace is defined as one that:

  • promotes your mental health and wellbeing
  • protects mental health by reducing work-related risk factors, and
  • works to prevent mental illness and injury from occurring.

In general, undertaking work activities are accepted to be good for your psychological and physical wellbeing. However, there are aspects of work that, if not appropriately managed, have the potential to negatively affect an individual’s mental health, sense of wellbeing, physical health, as well as the effectiveness of an organization to fulfil its operational requirements.

Workplace factors that may contribute to psychological injuries include:

  • elements of the work environment
  • management practices, or
  • the way that work is organised or designed.

Types of psychosocial hazards

Psychosocial hazards can include:

  • high and low job demands
  • low job control
  • poor support
  • poor organisational change management
  • poor organisational justice
  • low recognition and reward
  • low role clarity or role conflict
  • poor workplace relationships
  • remote and isolated work
  • violent or traumatic events.

For more information about psychological safety and the types of psychosocial risks, read the UQ psychological safety and wellbeing guide (PDF, 183.2 KB).

Managing psychosocial risks

Psychosocial risks can be managed in the same systematic way as other workplace health and safety risks.

UQ People@Work Program

The UQ People@Work program is based on the Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ) risk management guidelines for managing risks to psychological health in the workplace.

This approach follows a five step process to identify, assess and control risks to psychological health at work. Part of this approach is implementing the People at Work survey in work areas. This survey is a validated psychosocial risk assessment survey and assesses psychosocial risks and factors.

Read more about the WHSQ People at Work survey and process

The HSW division can support the rollout of the UQ People@Work program for work areas wishing to implement this approach. For more information and support on UQ People@Work contact hsw@uq.edu.au.

    Reporting psychosocial risks

    All psychosocial hazards and incidents should be reported in UQ Safe. You should also raise concerns with your immediate supervisor or, if this is not possible a Human Resources or Safety representative. 

    Other supports and interventions

    Ideally, work related factors influencing your psychological wellbeing should be addressed at the primary or organisational level. However, in addition to managing psychosocial risk, best practice for mentally healthy workplaces also includes:

    • promotion of individual health and wellbeing
    • early intervention for staff with health factors impacting on work
    • support, recovery and return to work options.

    Our UQ resources include: